Ben Sasse: U.S. deserves better than Trump or Clinton

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Ben Sasse speaks at the American Conservative Union 2016 annual conference in Maryland on March 3, 2016. (Photo: Gary Cameron/Reuters)

Not a fan of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? You’re not alone.

In a lengthy open letter late Wednesday night, Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., gave voice to the countless Americans who feel frustrated with their likely options for the next commander in chief.

The freshman senator, who made waves last November for criticizing party partisanship in his floor debut, addressed his message posted on Facebook to “those who think both leading presidential candidates are dishonest and have little chance of leading America forward,” or – put more simply – the “majority of America.”

“If you are one of those rare souls who genuinely believe Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are honorable people — if they are the role models you want for your kids — then this letter is not for you,” he wrote. “Instead, this letter is for the majority of Americans who wonder why the nation that put a man on the moon can’t find a healthy leader who can take us forward together.”

Sasse, 44, opened with anecdotes from four unsolicited conversations he had with people at a Walmart in the city of Fremont, Neb. A retired union Democratic meatpacker, a young evangelical mother, a middle-aged Republican man and a reluctant Trump supporter — all expressed a sense of disenfranchisement.

“I want to cry. I disagree with Hillary Clinton on almost every single thing — but I will vote for her before Trump. I could never tell my kids later that I voted for that man,” the young religious mom told Sasse.

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Donald Trump at a campaign rally at the Indiana Theater in Terre Haute, Ind., on May 1, 2016. (Photo: Seth Perlman/AP)

Similarly disappointed with the upcoming ballot, Sasse shared a list of observations about how the United States wound up in its current predicament (with two extremely polarizing people leading both major political parties) and called for the nation to draft an “honest leader” who would focus on solutions for the next four years: “You know … an adult?”

According to Sasse, there are “dumpster fires” in his town more popular than these two “dishonest liberals.”

“With Clinton and Trump, the fix is in. Heads, they win; tails, you lose. Why are we confined to these two terrible options? This is America. If both choices stink, we reject them and go bigger. That’s what we do.”

It shouldn’t be hard, he said, to find a candidate who has not bought politicians or been bought, who has not built a coalition based on anger, who has pledged to serve only one term “for this messy moment,” and who knows that Washington should not micromanage the lives of free people.

Instead, he continued, the next president should focus on three or four big national problems, such as 1) a national security strategy for the era of cyber and jihad; 2) budgeting/entitlement reform; 3) empowering states and local governments to improve K-12 education; and 4) ending incumbency protections so career politicians retire.

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Hillary Clinton addresses an Asian Pacific American Institute of Congressional Studies reception in Washington, May 4, 2016. (Photo: Cliff Owen/AP)

“I believe that most Americans can still be for limited government again — if they were given a winsome candidate who wanted Washington to focus on a small number of really important, urgent things — in a way that tried to bring people together instead of driving us apart,” he wrote. “I think there is room — an appetite — for such a candidate.”

The open letter is already catching the attention of the political world.

William Kristol, the founder and editor of the Weekly Standard, an influential conservative magazine, has long opposed Trump’s candidacy. He thinks that Sasse would make a great Republican alternative.

“I agree with the letter, and hope Ben overcomes his reluctance to step forward and run himself,” Kristol wrote in an email to Yahoo Politics.

Kristol suggested South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley as his potential running mate.

“They’re both young, intelligent constitutional conservatives who can appeal to independents and work with others while holding to conservative principles,“ he said.

But Sasse said the right candidate should be able to campaign 24/7 for the next six months and, therefore, should not be a parent with little kids — effectively counting himself out of the running. He has three children.

According to Sasse, there is a strong desire for the kind of candidate he described. So, he asked, what is he missing? And what are the people he met at Walmart missing?

“Because I don’t think they are wrong. They deserve better. They deserve a Congress that tackles the biggest policy problems facing the nation. And they deserve a president who knows that his or her job is not to ‘reign,’ but to serve as commander in chief and to ‘faithfully execute’ the laws — not to claim imperial powers to rewrite them with his pen and phone.”

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